Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

GillespieShields is committed to providing access to exceptional legal services throughout the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The firm is providing a reduction on all professional fees for new hourly matters through May 1, 2020. Please call our intake team today, 602 870 9700. Learn more

From Filing to Final Judgment: Understanding Arizona Rules Family Law Procedure

Family law matters can be complex and emotionally charged, which is why it’s important to have a clear understanding of the legal procedures involved in these cases. In Arizona, family law matters are governed by the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, which outlines the process from filing a case to obtaining a final judgment. In this article, we will explore the key steps involved in the Arizona family law procedure and what you need to know to navigate this process.

1. Filing a Petition

When beginning any family law matter, the initial step is to file a petition. This document outlines the relief the petitioner seeks, such as child custody, child support, or a divorce. The petition must be submitted to the court and served to the other party involved. In Arizona, the individual filing the petition is referred to as the petitioner, while the other party is known as the respondent.

Following the filing of the petition, the respondent is given a 20-day period to respond. Failure to respond within this timeframe may result in the petitioner filing a default judgment. This would grant the relief requested in the petition without requiring a hearing in court. Therefore, it is crucial for both parties to understand the deadlines involved and take appropriate action within the specified timeframes.

2. Summons and Response

The Arizona family law procedure involves several steps, including the Summons and Response stage. The Summons serves as formal notice to the other party of the petitioner’s intent to pursue legal action for a divorce. This document outlines the deadlines and requirements for the respondent’s response. Failure to respond within the specified time frame can result in a default judgment, which can be granted without a hearing in court.

On the other hand, the Response is the other party’s acknowledgment that the divorce procedure has commenced. It also outlines the respondent’s position regarding the relief sought in the petition. This document must be filed with the court and served to the petitioner within the specified time frame. Failure to file a Response can result in the court granting the petitioner’s requests by default. Therefore, it is essential for both parties to understand the importance of timely filing of the Summons and Response to ensure that their interests are protected throughout the divorce procedure.

3. Motions

Motions are an essential part of the Arizona family law procedure, representing a formal request to the court to order a specific action before the trial. These requests can be made for various reasons, such as to seek temporary orders for child support, spousal maintenance, or parenting time during the divorce proceedings. Additionally, motions may also be filed for modifications of prior orders or to seek enforcement of a court order.

In situations involving domestic abuse, it is not uncommon for a motion for a protective order or restraining order to be filed. This type of motion can be made to protect the victim and ensure their safety by prohibiting the abuser from approaching or contacting the victim. These orders can provide immediate relief for victims of domestic violence, and violation of such orders can result in severe penalties. Overall, motions are a critical part of the Arizona family law procedure, and it is important for individuals to understand the different types of motions available and the appropriate time to file them to protect their interests.

4. Hearings and Temporary Orders

The Arizona family law procedure involves several steps, including hearings and temporary orders. Sometimes, situations arise during divorce proceedings that require a temporary resolution before the final agreement is reached. For instance, if the parties are unable to agree on child custody, they may request a hearing, and the judge will decide on temporary orders regarding the living arrangements for the children during the divorce process.

Temporary orders typically remain in effect until a final decision is made at the end of the divorce proceedings. These orders can cover various aspects of the divorce, such as spousal maintenance, child support, and the division of property. The purpose of temporary orders is to provide immediate relief for the parties involved while they await a final resolution. It is important to note that temporary orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances or upon a showing of good cause. Overall, hearings and temporary orders are an essential part of the Arizona family law procedure, and it is crucial for individuals to understand the process and seek the guidance of an experienced attorney.

5. Discovery

Discovery is a crucial phase of the Arizona family law procedure that enables both parties to obtain relevant information and evidence to support their legal arguments. It involves a range of tools, including interrogatories, depositions, requests for production, and more. Through these mechanisms, each side can seek and gather important information about the other party, their finances, and any other relevant aspects of the case.

Interrogatories refer to a set of written questions that one party sends to the other party, which is required to respond in writing. Depositions, on the other hand, involve oral testimony given under oath and are usually conducted in person. Requests for production refer to a demand for the production of documents, such as bank statements, medical records, or emails. These tools of discovery provide each party with valuable information and evidence that can be used to build a stronger case and achieve a favorable outcome in court.

6. Trial

The trial is a crucial stage in the Arizona family law procedure where the case is presented before a judge who will make the final decision. This court appearance allows each party to present their case with the support of witnesses, friends, financial experts, psychologists, and other relevant parties who can provide evidence in their favor. The trial provides an opportunity for each party to persuade the judge to rule in their favor by presenting compelling evidence and legal arguments.

In addition to presenting witness testimony and other types of evidence, such as financial records, the trial may also involve cross-examination by the opposing party’s legal team. This stage can be emotionally charged and stressful, as the outcome of the case will ultimately determine the future of the family involved. However, with the help of an experienced family law attorney, each party can ensure that their case is presented effectively and persuasively, giving them the best chance of achieving a favorable outcome in court.

7. Judgment

The judgment is the final outcome of the Arizona family law procedure and represents the judge’s legal ruling on all the issues in question during the trial. This legal statement includes important decisions related to child custody and visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, property division, and any other relevant issues raised during the trial. The judgment is a critical document that outlines the rights and obligations of each party and serves as the basis for all future legal actions related to the case.

Once the judgment is issued, both parties are required to comply with its terms and provisions. Failure to do so may result in legal consequences, such as fines, penalties, or even imprisonment. However, if either party is unhappy with the judgment, they may have the right to appeal the decision to a higher court. It is essential to work closely with an experienced family law attorney throughout the entire process to ensure that your rights and interests are protected and that you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

Our Final Thoughts

In conclusion, navigating the Arizona family law procedure can be complex and challenging, but understanding the steps involved can help you prepare for what to expect. From filing the initial petition to obtaining a final judgment, the process requires careful attention to detail, strategic planning, and a deep understanding of Arizona family law. By working with an experienced family law attorney, you can ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process and that you achieve the best possible outcome for yourself and your family. Whether you are facing a divorce, child custody dispute, or any other family law matter, having a knowledgeable and compassionate legal advocate on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Are You Looking for a Family Law Attorney You Can Trust?


Looking for attorneys who can handle your family law case with passion and expertise? Look no further than GillespieShields. Our team of legal experts specializes in various legal fields, but our true passion lies in helping families navigate Arizona Rules and Family Law Procedures. From divorce and custody battles to adoption proceedings, our attorneys are dedicated to giving you the peace of mind you deserve.

At GillespieShields, we understand that every family is unique and so is every case. That’s why we take the time to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have during our private, one-on-one consultation. We’ll guide you through the complex landscape of Arizona’s family laws, discuss your unique situation, and explore possible court outcomes.

We believe in fighting hard for families; our track record speaks for itself. If you’re looking for experienced attorneys who truly care about your family’s future, contact GillespieShields today for your consultation!


The materials available on this website are for informational and entertainment purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.  You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this site without seeking legal or other professional advice. The information presented on this website may not reflect the most current legal developments.  No action should be taken in reliance on the information contained on this website and we disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this site to the fullest extent permitted by law.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Us

Phoenix Location

7319 North 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85020 | 602-870-9700

Mesa Location

1630 S. Stapley Drive, Suite 212, Mesa, AZ 85204 | 480-985-4000


Share This